Online class orientation well received by students

December 3, 2010 Latest Print Print
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An orientation offered to help users navigate ANGEL — the college’s online learning management system — has met with initial success.

Glenne’ Whisenhunt, Center for Learning and Teaching director, said within 28 days of going live, the new ANGEL online orientation had received a total of 35,141 hits by OCCC students and faculty.

She said this number far exceeded the initial expectations for the opening few weeks.

Whisenhunt said the goal of the ANGEL orientation is to give students a clear idea of what they are getting into when they enroll for online classes.

Business Professor Anita Williams said the orientation also is designed to better acquaint students with computer technology.

Williams said students often sign up for an online class, then find they can’t adequately manipulate the computer.

Whisenhunt said the orientation is set up to focus primarily on three of ANGEL’s features — basic computer skills, navigating ANGEL and using the components within ANGEL.

The first part of the orientation begins by addressing basic computer skills that are crucial to success in any class, whether it’s online or in a classroom setting, Whisenhunt said.

“You still have to do homework, log into the course, and take tests,” she said. “You must know how to use a mouse, save and retrieve a document as well as have the proper settings and programs on your computer.”

The second section looks at where things are located within ANGEL, Whisenhunt said.

She compared this part of the orientation to a map. It is similar to finding classes — only instead of classrooms, it looks at the tabs where the course content is located, she said.

“The third part is set up to allow you to learn how the features of ANGEL work,” Whisenhunt said.

In this section the goal is learning how take quizzes, use a drop box and operate the course mail.

Whisenhunt said the orientation is part of the Achieving the Dream online student success program.

She said students in online classes are statistically less likely to complete the semester, compared to traditional classes.

“We began to notice a gap between online students and on campus students This is the support they need to help them be more successful.”

During the Board of Regents regular meeting Nov. 15, Felix Aquino, vice president of academic affairs, briefly spoke about the improvement in online success.

From the year 2007 to the year 2010, success rates in online classes have shown a steady 4 percent increase in 1000-level courses and a 1.2 percent increase within the last year in 2000-level courses.

“The online course completion was one of the priorities of Achieving the Dream and our efforts appear to be very good,” Aquino said.

“The orientation was created in response to information gathered from OCCC students about issues that many faced when they begin using ANGEL,” Whisenhunt said.

“For the year 2010, 20.9 percent of all enrollments were delivered in an online format.”

Student Courtney Bull said the orientation might have helped her if she had taken it before jumping into online learning.

“This is my first online class and it was challenging learning how to use the online program,” Bull said.

“It was very confusing and it got my roommate and me off to a rocky start.”

The idea is that students should work through the orientation before enrolling in an online course to decrease difficulty when they begin.

For someone who is not familiar with ANGEL, or is taking an online class for the first time, the orientation will probably be of some assistance, Bull said.

Whisenhunt said the numbers are encouraging.

“The first day it was available, people accessed the orientation 4,284 times. Four hundred fifty-four students have completed the first assessment and 271 students have successfully completed the orientation.”

Whisenhunt said it takes about an hour to work through the entire orientation.

“We realize the orientation is long, but all the content in it is necessary to help students be successful in the use of ANGEL,” Whisenhunt said.

For more information about ANGEL orientation, visit www.occc.edu and click on the information banner at the top of the page.

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